Traditionally, much of the research into language learning has been concerned with methods and techniques and considering how these might be applied to learners in order to facilitate learning. Although this research tradition has, of course, produced some interesting and useful findings, if language learning is to be effective, we need also to consider that what is learnt is not only a matter of input. Intake is also determined at an individual level by factors generated from within the individual, which make learners distinct from each other, and which will inevitably influence their success.
This talk will explore the relationship of individual differences to the good language learner by means of two case studies. One might be considered “good” because he claims to know 13 languages. The other might be considered “good” because, when he sat the high-level IELTS exam, he scored 9, which is reckoned to be close to native-speaker level. We will compare their perceptions of how their own individual differences influence their language learning and attempt to extract some general truths which might be used to inform the language learning endeavours of others.